In a Class by Herself: The Yawl BOLERO and the Passion for Craftsmanshipby John Rousmaniere
Not only is Bolero "the best of her class" (as someone said of her), but she was created and restored by a diverse company of people who were the best of their classes. Bolero is one of those cultural heirlooms that is constantly being rediscovered in ways that would astonish even her creators, and her story is of a vast and varied world of laughter and tears, triumph and failure. The same boat that was featured in Time magazine and broke a Bermuda Race record was nearly wrecked on Cape Hatteras and, only 15 years ago, was rotting away in a Florida canal. Today, magnificently restore, she again wins races and turns heads, just as she did upon her launch in 1949.
This beautifully illustrated book tells the story of a classic yacht and the gifted, artistic people who owned, designed, and built her – John Nicholas and Anne Brown, Olin Stephens, and Henry Nevins – and of the dedicated couple who brought this great American heirloom back from dismaying rot to pristine condition.
“A gem. More than a history of one of the wooden era’s best known racers or a recount of the reconstruction of the rotting hulk she became, this is a story of people, her owners, designers, builders, sailmakers, skippers, and, finally, restorers.” – Scuttlebutt
“A first-rate history of the birth and rebirth of an American icon. Through meticulous research and colorful reporting, he has skillfully crafted a portrait of one of the most transformative eras in yachting and how its influence is still felt today.” – Christopher Pastore, author, Temple to the Wind
“I can think of no recent book that more effectively (and entertainingly) balances a consideration of the art and science of yacht design and construction with the social, economic, and, indeed, moral and spiritual imperatives of yacht ownership.” – Llewellyn Howland III, WoodenBoat
“John Rousmaniere writes with clarity the wonderful tale of the owners, designers, builders, and sailors who remind us why sailing is special and challenging.” – Gary Jobson
Excerpts from In a Class by Herself:
Arriving home from work one evening, a man was told that an impressive big boat was anchored in a nearby harbor. “The name’s Bolero, something like that,” his wife told him. “THE Bolero?” he replied. “Big and black.” The fellow ran out the door and raced through the twilight to catch a glimpse of the most famous yawl in America.
After Edward Kane completed the restoration of Bolero in 2003, he was asked what had motivated him to go to all the effort and expense of returning her to her original condition. His answer hinted at a motivation that might be called spiritual. “There’s something mystical about her,” Kane said. As an example, he cited the striking “confluence of events” that brought together the team of individuals – each remarkable in his or her own right – who created the boat.
One of those fortunate people who love the steps of creation as much as the end itself, Bolero’s first owner, John Nicholas Brown, was temperamentally incapable of being a hands-off patron. “Through what seems endless detail there runs joy in creation which is the sine qua non of great art,” he declared.
The key element, Olin Stephens wrote, was balance: “balance between the ends, and, as far as possible, balance throughout.” “Balance” here is a technical term. The boat must be regarded as a whole, no single feature standing out. Balance was a rule that Stephens would carry into his own life, too, as a philosophical concept signifying moderation, proportionality, order, and equilibrium – even as he devoted his long career to creating some of the most breathtakingly beautiful and exciting objects ever built.
Henry Nevins believed that boatbuilding was not so much a technical as a moral enterprise. “A good craftsman must have, first of all, a basic sense of integrity and pride in his work, or he is no good.”
A flogging wire jib sheet caught Arnheim behind the knees and tossed him over the rail. He succeeded in grabbing the sheet, which flogged him about violently as Stephens, at the wheel, luffed into the wind to stop Bolero and Corny Shields grabbed him and hauled him aboard, his head bleeding profusely. Arnheim slumped on deck, muttering, “Ay taut ay vas gone.”
(2006) 9"x11", 168 pages, color illustrationsISBN 0-939511-13-4 (hardbound)
Regular retail $50.00